By Matthew De George Delaware County Daily Times/PaPrepLive
Updated: January 27, 2016
Academy Park's Devounghnte Brown, left, attempts to block a shot by Chichester's Derrick Welles Tuesday. Welles scored a game-high 26 points, but Academy Park claimed an 88-79 win. (Digital First Media/Robert J. Gurecki)
UPPER CHICHESTER >> As the tally of disqualifications at the end of the Academy Park bench grew and the Chichester deficit dwindled, DeAndray Covert knew what had to happen.
The blizzard of fouls, personal and technical, that eroded AP’s already sparse lineup left the senior guard as the closest remaining approximation to a primary ball-handler. In a frenetic Del Val affair, there was no panic, just the realization that it was Covert’s time to shine.
Covert scored 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, weathering a feverish Chichester comeback in a wild 88-79 win that was heated and contentious, before and after the whistles.
“I know that I have to play a bigger role,” Covert said. “I wasn’t nervous or anything. I knew we could come up with the win. I just had to take a bigger role.”
Behind 26 Derrick Welles points, Chichester got to within four in the final minute. But a clutch 3-pointer from Nick Simmons with 54 seconds left stretched a four-point lead back to a comfortable seven, buffeted by two late Covert buckets and a Devoughnte Brown putback to seal the game.
“We’re used to active games by now,” said Welles, shrugging off the on-court acrimony. “I’ve been here four years. We’ve basically just got to keep our heads in the game and block all that extra stuff out. Just keep fighting.”
The foul tallies were staggering: 57 combined infractions for 62 trips to the free throw line. Seven technical fouls were assessed, five on visiting Academy Park. Three players a side fouled out, and several fans were escorted from the premises.
Academy Park (13-5, 6-1) weathered the first major subtraction at 2:30 of the third quarter, when newly-added freshman forward Khyree Temple was tagged with his second technical foul. Temple and his dominant 19 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks headed to the showers early, the technical free throws helping Chichester whittle what had been a 19-point lead to 10.
The next dismissal wouldn’t be so easy to stomach. Jawan Collins hardly accumulated a vintage day by his standards, playing through three first-half fouls and picking up a silly reach-in for No. 4 at 4:04 of the third. Nonetheless, he impacted the game with 12 assists, including several pinpoint dimes through traffic. He also supplied 18 points, but the last three were problematic.
After nailing a 28-footer from the volleyball lines on the Chichester floor, Collins was excessively emphatic in his celebration, hit with a “T” from the refs. That marked his fifth foul, ending his night with AP holding a suddenly anxious 19-point edge, 77-58.
Collins’ destabilizing absence provided a cushion for Chichester (10-7, 3-4) to make its run, as did the disqualification of backup point guard Nakim Stokes. The Eagles surged with a 15-2 run that withstood Eric Montanez (22 points, including 11 in the third quarter) fouling out with 3:17 remaining.
Welles took over, scoring 13 points in the final frame, most with his dogged determination to get to the glass.
“I wanted to attack even when (Collins) was in the game because he was in early foul trouble,” Welles said. “Eric and I made sure we went at guys, and that’s how we were in the bonus for so long.”
Possession by possession, they pared down the margin, even through inauspicious foul shooting that plagued both sides. The Eagles stitched together a four-point possession when DaQuan Granberry (15 points, 12 rebounds) missed his and-1, but D’Andre Morgan grabbed the rebound and hurled up a prayer that went in as he was falling down under a foul. Again the free throw misfired, but Chi was at its closest since the first half at 75-71.
That didn’t last, though. Simmons, who scored 15 points and like Covert and Collins buried three 3-pointers, lined up a shot from the right wing in transition with just under a minute to play off a feed from Covert. The conventional wisdom might have been to take the ball out and run clock. But in a game that was anything but ordinary, Simmons let fly and found nothing by net.
“It felt right,” he said. “I had my feet set, shot it.”
The rest was up to Covert. Though he came up empty on three trips to the charity stripe in the fourth on an evening where the Knights shot just 50 percent (13-for-26) from the line, he took the ensuing possession after a Granberry miss straight to the hole for a basket. Brown stuffed back Covert’s missed free throw, then after two Welles baskets, Covert again slalomed through pressure to the rim for the final points in a decision that keeps AP in the Del Val title hunt.
“I’ve just got to calm down, keep my head, don’t let the fans get to me and play my game,” Covert said.
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